Missy Elliott on Making a Career Comeback

missy elliottFor those of us pushing towards success, it is not uncommon to occasionally hit a low point. Whether it’s the result of taking a risk, burning ourselves out, or facing personal challenges, we will inevitably face some form of rejection. The key is in how you bounce back. I don’t know about you, but I want to follow Missy Elliot’s path.

If you saw Sunday’s Super Bowl Halftime Show, then you witnessed the reemergence of an artist who has been gone for far too long. Katy Perry was great, but Missy Elliott stole the show. If you are unfamiliar, Missy Elliott is a Grammy Award-winning artist who has sold over 30 million records. With such hits as “Get Ur Freak On” and “Lose Control,” Elliott is the only female rapper to have six albums certified platinum, including one double platinum. Elliott has also produced and written songs for such big names as Whitney Houston, Aaliyah, Mariah Carey, and Janet Jackson.

After a string of hits, without warning, Elliott disappeared from the music scene. It is typical for once-hot singers to fade away or ruin their career due to personal demons. Elliott, however, was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease that made her so weak she could not hold a pen. Her symptoms stabilized and she made a comeback this weekend like none other – after this one Super Bowl appearance, sales of Elliott’s songs increased by 1,000%.

Without a catchy song or dance skills, how can the rest of us hope to make such a career resurgence? Here are a few tips that may help.

Diversify

Elliott is a writer, singer, and producer. If she didn’t appear in the Halftime Show, she could have come back behind the scenes in a number of roles.

When I first started out in the music industry and went to Elektra Records, I didn’t go to be an artist, I went to get a record label started. And they said in order to have a label deal, I had to be an artist – so that’s what I did. – Missy Elliott

If you are only known for one thing, you have less ways to make a comeback and less to come back to. Before disaster strikes, become more well-rounded. Learn every façade of your job, company, and industry. Get involved in a variety of activities and become a Renaissance Man/Woman.

Originality

There is no other Missy Elliott. Her sound, style, and stage presence are all hers. You can’t make a comeback if everyone else can emulate what you do. What would you be coming back to do? If you want to experience a rebirth, you need a style that is all yours. Determine what makes you unique and promote it. When someone heeds your advice, experiences your customer service, or hears a bass line (in Elliott’s case), they need to associate it with you.

I don’t want to hear what’s hot and feel I have to copy it. I’ll just make up my own thing. – Missy Elliott

Impact

When you come back, do it big. Don’t try to build up a few small wins; that was useful when you were making first impressions. Now that you have a reputation, show everyone that you are returning as a winner. Come back with your next grand idea. Roll out an ambitious new initiative. Perform in front of the largest television viewing audience of all time. However you do it, be bold and entice others to care.

The stink of failure will only define you if you let it. When you return from your comeback, make sure everyone knows that you were only on a hiatus from greatness, not a permanent vacation. Missy Elliott came back from a life threatening illness. You can handle a little rejection.

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